We started the New Year off with the New Years Dive in the North Sea in Scheveningen, Netherlands (The Hague) on January 1st, 2016! Yes, we actually ran into the freezing cold North Sea…and I highly recommend it!! Tradition has it that they wash away the old year and welcome in the new one with this event. When I read about a friend doing this last year I just HAD to put it on the calendar for this year and I’m so glad we got to go experience that! So if you think it sounds as amazing as I did make sure to add it to your calendar for next year!
I will say that when I was trying to research this and get info it was not an easy task. From having to translate the websites to just not finding the info about the questions I needed/wanted answered (parking, changing areas, etc) so I made sure to take good notes to share here so that your trip planning can be much easier.
The North Sea Plunge is put on by Unox which is a food company that makes foods like soup, sausages, etc. There is a small fee to participate, €3 per person, and €1 of that per person goes to a charity to feed the needy. So for our family of 5 it was €15 to participate in the event. The fee gets you admission to the beach which is closed off and access is only allowed to ticket holders before and during the event. You’ll also get a goodie bag and a bowl of hot pea soup afterwards. Also know that there are over 137 locations to do the New Years Dive but the Scheveningen one is the original one, and is the one we chose to go to.
Scheveningen is about 3.5 hours from Spangdahlem so we chose to stay the night, sightsee the next day and then head home. However I will tell you that if you would like to do so make sure you book early! I tried to find an apartment/hotel/B&B about 3-4 weeks out and 98% of the Netherlands was booked according to Booking.com! There were only expensive places left (€450/nite or more) and vrbo.com was booked up as well. Someone told me about Hotels.com and luckily I was able to score a room at a great hotel for not only our family of 5 but our friend’s family of 5 as well. So I’d recommend booking a few months out, and using Booking.com you can cancel for free most of the time. We also stayed 30 mins outside of Scheveningen towards Amsterdam because we visited Clara Maria’s Cheese farm (LINK) the next day to get the amazing Italian Herb Cheese that we have come to love!
Parking can be a bit tricky as over 10,000 people attend the event! There are several parking garages you can find listed here. The one right by the hotel and beach (Kurhaus) gets very full and when we arrived at 10:45 am there was a long line waiting to get in. We opted to drive down and park at Scheveningen Bad (the largest with 2030 spots) which was only a few min walk away. There was tons of parking. We did find after the event that with only 1 ticket machine per section (A, B, C, etc) it was a good 40 min wait in line to pay to get out of parking. It was €8,40 for 3 hours 21 mins of parking. We took the kids to the car while the guys waited. Note there are no restrooms here, the nearest ones will be in the mall on the boardwalk and you’ll need €0.50 to use. You can also try to find street parking but check the times as most only had a 2 hour limit.
After parking make your way to the boardwalk, if your not sure where to go just follow the masses. You’ll end up behind Grand Hotel Amrâth where you purchase your tickets to participate in the event. Note you need to be there a bit early because getting onto the beach takes awhile because there is only one entrance, it took about 20 mins. So after tickets are purchased you get in the mass of people (NO LINE of course) and slowly inch forward in a lump until you get to the ticket checkers.
For arrival time they start selling tickets at 10 am until the 10,000 are sold so get there early to get tickets, enjoy the atmosphere, etc. We tried to get there by 10:30 am but with finding parking we did not get to the ticket area until 11:20 am and then it took us until 11:45 am to get onto the beach. We had 15 minutes to get changed and in place to run into the water. Truthfully that was enough time but we could’ve been there earlier and experienced the music/atmosphere for longer since the weather was decent.
After your ticket is checked, at the bottom of the stairs they hand out the goodie bags. In the goodie bags this year was the infamous Unox bright orange hat, which is so needed to keep you warm! A can of soup, a ribbon, and some Vaseline. Note that we got onto the beach finally at 11:45 am (dive happened at Noon) and they were running out of goodie bags but we all managed to get one. So if you arrive too late you may not get one.
There are tons of people, the music is blaring, and people are getting pumped up for the event, so much fun! We found a spot on the beach so set our stuff and change into our ‘running in the water’ gear. No, we did not wear swimsuits but many Europeans did and speedos were out in full action. There were also some people dressed up in costumes, etc. I just wore capri running pants and a shirt. The guys wore gym shorts & a tee. Plus our awesome orange hats! We left our stuff sitting by the fence and didn’t have any issues with it. We kept anything of value (wallet, phones, camera) on us. I did have a water proof camera and we had ziplock bags for the phones for when we ran in, just in case but they didn’t get wet.
I will say BRING flip flops, water shoes, or shoes you want to get wet because the sand is COLD! Our feet were freezing before we even got into the water! I had flip flops & slides for the kids but I forgot to bring mine. I ended up standing on my Unox bag until it was time to run in the water!
There are changing tents you can use to change in however there are some things to know about using them! There are 2 large tents and they are full of naked Europeans, which is not uncommon in Europe. The creepy part was the old guy in there taking pictures of the naked people!! We wore our stuff under our clothes so we changed out easy instead of using the tent. Mr. B did not and got an eye full and seen lots of creepers. Changing out of the wet clothes we were able to easily do on the beach quickly with a towel around the waist. You could also bring a bathrobe to use as well. Note the only bathrooms on the beach are a row of porta potties, they are free and do have hand sanitizer.
We were lucky this year as it was the warmest year for the event with the water at a warm 9° C (48° F) but it was still cold! However the sun was out and shining so that helped too, the next day was cold & rainy so I’m glad we ended up with a good day for the dive! Everyone hangs around on the beach talking and waiting, the dive starts at Noon and they start counting down from 10 seconds. At 1 everyone starts running towards the water!
You can run in as much or as little as you want, I seen some people going in up to their chests and dunking under, others just got their toes wet. We ran in to about mid thigh, except for Boo who went all in and out to his chest. It was not mass chaos like I expected there was no pushing or shoving and there was plenty of room to get in and out of the water easily. Some stayed in longer than others and some went in multiple times. They do have people on jet skis to make sure no one goes out beyond a certain point for safety reasons. Plenty of opportunity to take videos, selfies, etc.
Our standing in the North Sea selfie! Several members were being camera shy, LOL!
Our feet were numb as we headed back up the beach to get changed and it did take a bit before we got full feeling back in our toes but it was worth it! After we changed we went over to the area to the right of the stairs to get our free split pea soup, it was warm and yummy! Bring water (or something) if you want a drink to go with it.
If you have people in your party that are there to watch but not participate they can watch from the boardwalk above but will not be allowed onto the beach without a ticket. There were lots of spectators there as well as participants. There is also boardwalk area with a mall, shops, restaurants, including a McDs, long 2 story pier, bungee jumping, tubing hill, etc. So you can hang out in the boardwalk area for a bit as well. We grabbed a snack at McD’s on our way out but it was super crowded and finding a seat was a bit tricky.
Check out the video that Unox did, it highlights all the fun!
Overall we had an amazing time! It was great that Boo was here on his winter break so he got to experience it with us as well. It’ll be something that our family remembers and talks about for years to come! I’ll be sharing where we stayed and the bird park experience in an upcoming post.
Have you done the New Year’s Dive? What did you think?
Know Before You Go
What: New Years Dive in the North Sea in Scheveningen, Netherlands.
How To Get There: It’s about 3 hours 35 mins from Spangdahlem, and 4 hours 30 mins from Ramstein. It’s 55 mins from Amsterdam. GPS Address: Gevers Deynootplein 30, 2586 CK Den Haag, Netherlands (this is for the Grand Hotel Amrâth where it’s located behind, use the GPS address for the parking garage you want to use to park).
Parking: There are several parking garages to choose from, use the link above to have the addresses. The largest one, Scheveningen Bad, is only a 3 min walk from the beach. It was €8,40 for 3 hours 21 mins of parking. Keep in mind it’s VERY busy when you try to pay to get out so consider spending some time in the boardwalk area to let it die down some.
Cost: €3 to participate in the dive which includes a goodie bag.
Traveling with little kids: This event is family friendly but does require the purchase of a ticket for all family members. They ask those with littles to stay to the side of the water when running in, I think so it’s easy to get out quickly. Our friends took their kids as well (3, 7, & 10), the 3 year old was held and didn’t get in the cold water though but the sand was cold so bring shoes/flip flops for littles! Beach access is not stroller friendly (obviously with the sand) and it’s crowded around the ticket area and ticket checkpoint so plan on them walking or wearing them. If wearing you can go in as little as you want (thigh high, etc) and they won’t get wet.
How long: Plan on at least 2 hours for the experience. You need to arrive with enough time to park, get tickets, get on the beach, change, experience the dive, change into dry clothes, eat soup, and whatever else you’d like to do in the boardwalk area.